Could Notre Dame Find Themselves Fighting For NCAA Tournament Bid?

By douggriffiths
Mike Brey Notre Dame
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Sitting at 15-4 you would think Notre Dame is pretty safe to make its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

However, the Fighting Irish are one of those teams that’s slumping and if they don’t get things turned around quickly, they could find themselves in the NIT if they’re not careful.

Farfetched? Perhaps.

But it’s no secret Notre Dame, which started 14-1, is currently playing its worst basketball of the season. It has dropped three of its last four games, including two out of three at home, and this isn’t a program that loses in Purcell Pavilion under Coach Mike Brey.

What’s of grave concern is how Brey’s 24th-ranked Irish didn’t have much fight at all in them on Monday night when they were drubbed by unranked Georgetown by 16 points in South Bend, one of the worst home losses in Brey’s tenure.

Notre Dame’s performance was so poor in fact that Brey said it was like watching “men vs. boys.”

After getting dominated by the Hoyas, the Irish are searching for answers. That’s very concerning when you consider this is a Notre Dame team filled with veterans.

One of those veterans is Scott Martin, who may have played his final game in an Irish uniform. Martin’s surgically repaired left knee is bothering him so much that Brey has elected to shut him down for two to three weeks and that might not be enough for the sixth-year player.

Notre Dame will miss Martin. Not that he’s a scoring machine, but he does all the little things, many of which don’t appear in box scores, that coaches love.

Martin’s absence makes a thin team even thinner.

Brey hasn’t decided who will take Martin’s place in the starting lineup and may fill the void on a rotating basis.

Without Martin and still two games against Louisville and one with Syracuse, Notre Dame’s problems could potentially get even worse.

Today they have an RPI of 54 and a strength of schedule of 83. Its best wins of the season came against then-No. 8 Kentucky and at then-No. 21 Cincinnati. Recent losses to Connecticut, St. John’s and now the blowout to Georgetown really hurt Notre Dame’s NCAA Tournament resume.

This is an Irish team that is searching for answers. It’s not on the bubble yet for the NCAA Tournament, but if it doesn’t return to its winning ways soon, it will find itself sweating things out come Selection Sunday.

Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.

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